Monday, 20 September 2010
Being a Dickhead is Cool?
Some of you will have seen this clever and artful ditty on You Tube by now. If not please see below. I know some people reading this are outside the UK (Hi there!) and may have not understood my references to 'Hoxtonites' or 'Hoxton Twatkids' or Shoreditch Hipsters. This person, usually young self-consciously hangs around the fashionable London areas of Dalston, Hoxton and Shoreditch. These were previously and indeed in part are still scuzzy rough East End suburbs inhabited by the urban poor and any new group of Immigrants, presently Bangladeshis. However the cheapness and the presence of essentially attractive old industrial buildings attracted artists in the 80's, who attracted the fashionable. The artists and cutting edge types now infest Peckham in South London for similar reasons. This has left East London expensive and attracting a certain kind of monied young person seeking artiness and a percieved sense of danger or edginess. This song parodies them mercilessly:
I love parody but I am not one hundred percent comfortable with distinguishing one particular group to abuse. The Goth - bashing that culminated in Sophie Lancaster's murder grew from jibes and contempt directed at Emos and Goths. I am certainly guilty of comlaining about Hoxtonites, they particularly grate with Retro fans because they have enthusiastically grasped the idea of 'Vintage', got it wrong and then made it their own. The hipster is behind the skinny jeans with suit jacket concept that grasped the country's imagination and resulted in wholesale vintage suit armaggedon! The girls pay a fortune at Rockit and Beyond Retro for complete tat, push all the prices up and when they do get something wonderful butcher it to a silly skirt length. Mind you, it's their right but it's my reason for rankle. As a group if they were obviously motivated by some musical enthusiasm, some stylish current or some downright form of rebellion of creative ferment I might moan but I'd back them to the hilt. Otherwise I definitely would be like my parents were, the 21st century version of moaning about New Romantics or that terrible Siouxsie Sioux hair do....
I feel however that what this You Tube video is truly lampooning is that this is a group of people who for all their claims to originality only truly want to belong to the establishment. They are not disimiliar to the working class child who aspires to media celebrity. It's not like the posh kid listening to the Jam and dreaming of messing his parent's world up in the 80's. You ask one of these girls what they are about and you get a full CV. These are people who want a line of jewellery but don't want 3 years at art school learning how to do so. These are bloggers (?!), people who promote things, basically it is an alternative to the Gap year in Africa planting trees. Ask any young person of the past what they were up to and you could have expected at best a grunt, these people will go into great verbal detail. The closest equivalent group I can think of is the Sloane Ranger, a group defined by class, aspirations and a dress sense but not much else except for a sense of entitlement. The Sloane was at least a giggle.
But is this a reason for ridicule, and surely they should be welcome to wear what they choose? behave and act as they wish? The answers to these is a resounding yes. The Hoxtonite however can only expect to face ridicule because as a group they court the media and the media feeds on them happily. The Hoxtonite idea of style is tied in the clothing ranges everywhere from BHS to Topshop. The look of most young white teenagers is affected by their taste. This is conscious, the children of Home Counties professionals and London's urban media chatterati they want to be looked at from outside, admired for their edginess and are happy to be commodified. They are unlike Teds, Mods, Punks, Goths and New Romantics who dress for each other and are more comfortable in places full of their own kinds. The figureheads for Hoxton Style and fashion are glib and in secondary media roles: dj, promoter, graffiti artist; even their venues are pop-up.
Their exclusivity is not from belonging or understanding but from appearing to be something, something easily digestible to the mass media. Their prised quality is irony, the things I love they use ironically. They wear belts and braces because it is ironically working class, they hang horns on pub walls because they are ironically rural. But they are not ironic about themselves.
They can therefore expect to be ridiculed as much as any subculture but without any community to fall back on. Even this would be no justification to be unpleasant, it is just that, and I know this is a generalisation but they do tend to be as a group to be very rude and bargey. It's as if manners are not fashionable. Punks, mods and skins are polite. Most people are. But from unhappy experience a few groups of Hipsters will make a happy atmosphere frigid. They also stare, because although they seek attention anyone who does look different seems to count as a freak or as decoration for their evening. And they are cliquey.
I'm not going to say that all Hoxtonites are dickheads, nor that I entirely agree with picking on them. Right here I am making it clear that plently are probably lovely and their are plenty of bitches in any environment. Sadly however it was going to happen sooner or later that the finger of mirth would point at them and this ditty is, hilariously, spot-on.
What do you think? Am I being unfair? Should men in taches wear sharp suits? Is this funny or mean?